Twitter channels TV viewers: chief

Twitter chief Dick Costolo said Friday that the Internet Age one-to-many text messaging service is turning out to be a boon for good old television.

"There is a fascinating relationship between Twitter and tune-in, and Twitter and TV," Costolo said during an on-stage chat at an Online News Association gathering in San Francisco. "We are just scratching the surface of that."

His comments came during a conversation that touched on an array of topics, from where Twitter was heading to worries by software developers about the startup's tightening control over the globally popular platform.

Costolo envisioned Twitter one day being woven into television viewing in real time, allowing for real-time exchanges or voting during shows or broadcast sporting events.

He cited the deluge of Twitter chatter related to the recent Olympic Games in London, implying that tweets prompted more people to tune into events broadcast exclusively on television in the United States by NBC.

"The fascinating thing about NBC was that while the digerati were tweeting '#NBCfail,' it is still the case that they had the highest-rated Olympics in 36 years," Costolo said, noting broadcast-time complaints by viewers.

Twitter and Facebook synchronization was feature in a TVGuide.com smartphone application tailored to give people personalized watchlists that make it easy to find shows they like amid the exploding array of options.

"You can share with your friends; talk about shows in real time," TV Guide Digital general manager and executive vice president Christy Tanner said in a recent interview.

"People are actually watching more live TV, time-shifted TV, on-demand TV and more streaming TV... At the same time, we are creating a new paradigm of discovery and watch management."

San Francisco startup Yap.TV mated the television program guide with the Twitter stream, Facebook and other social networks to let people see what shows people are talking about and join in the conversation along with the viewing.

Costolo said that Twitter was also working on tools for "curating" messages focused on common topics and that by year's end, users would be able to download all of their tweets.

"The caveat is that this is the CEO saying this, not the engineer who is building it," he quipped. "I would dearly like to have it out by the end of the year."

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